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The Early Bolles in Lincolnshire

Back to The Bolles of Lincolnshire

See also The Early History of Swineshead   

Enough records exist from before the 1300’s to show that there was a very early and wide spread Bolle presence in Lincolnshire likely predating the Norman arrival although they are too sparse to really map any connections between generations.  By the 1300’s Bolle references become relatively plentiful and show a Bolle presence throughout an area known as the fenlands in ‘parts of Holand’ southwest of Boston.  The best known line in this area would definitely be the Bolle of Swineshead but with the Bolle presence in this area going back much earlier there were also many Bolle lines in nearby communities.  These are probably cadet lines of the senior family, cousins and 2nd, 3rd and 4th cousins of the Swineshead Bolles but as matters relating to land holding was the most important information to record, church registers had not yet been started, too few records exist for any but the wealthiest line to actually document these connections.  See Other Bolle In The Swineshead Area (under construction)


The Bolle of Haugh pedigree as documented in the Herald’s Visitation of 1563/64 shows that at that time the earliest known ancestor of the Bolles line in Lincolnshire was ‘Alan of Swinshed, Lord of Swinshed, and of three several manors within the same called Bole Hall’.  Thomas Farquhar includes the same statement in his History of the Bowles Family (1868) and adds ‘living in 1272’ but only as a part of his transcription of an earlier work ‘The Bowles Roll’ by Mr George Bowles of London.  Farquhar’s transcript of the Bowles Roll only gives ‘vide Hundred Roll’ as a reference for the claim that Alan Bolle was the Lord of Swynesheved. More recent research has found some problems with that statement.  See The Question of Alan Bole, Lord of Swineshead and see The Bolles of Swineshead Parish for more on this line.


There are actually several references for the Bolle or Bolle-like name in Lincolnshire which pre-date 1272.  I’m not suggesting that all or even any of these are connected to the Bolles of Swineshead line or even to each other.  They might be completely unconnected Bolle families which developed here independently of each other.  These references are included here merely as a record of the early occurrences of the Bolle name in Lincolnshire with both Norman and Anglo-Saxon origins and because, although it may never be possible to prove it, one of these could well have been an ancestor of the Swineshead Bolles line.


The most likely source for a Norman origin for at least some of the Bowles in England would be Ernald de Builli (pronounced Booley) the brother of Roger de Busli (sometimes written Bully and prononounced the same) of Tickhill, Yorkshire.  However, the complete lack of a ‘de’ in period references for the Bolle living in Swineshead and area make them unlikely to be connected to the many ‘de Bolle’ and eventually Bowles descendants of the de Busli line of Yorkshire.  There are indications of some de Busli descendants being in Lincolnshire although none that I could find that seemed to remain for a long time or that connect to any current lines.


See Roger de Bully’s Connections in Lincolnshire and also Roger de Busli of Tickhill, Yorkshire (both of these sections are still under construction)


Bole of Wilsthorpe Manor before 1066


The Lincoln Record Society’s ‘The Lincolnshire Domesday and the Lindsey Survey’ (1924) records that a ‘Bernac and Bole’ held a considerable area of land in Lincolnshire prior to the Norman conquest of 1066 but it was all in Norman hands when the Domesday Survey was recorded in 1086.

Here is an image of the original page in the Domesday Book and, as it’s rather hard to read, a transcript of its text:


ref. 14. Land of Ivo Taillebois

92. In Wiuelestorp [Wilsthorpe] Bernac [and Bole] had 4 carucates of land (assessed) to the geld.  There is land for 4 teams.  Of this land 2 carucates are soke (in soca).  Odo, Ivo’s man, has 1 team there [in demesne] and 10 sokemen and 10 villeins having 2 ½ teams and 2 mills rendering 20 shillings and 40 acres of meadow and 12 acres of underwood.  T. R. E. it was worth 40 shillings; now 80 shillings; now 30 shillings.


Soke[land] [of this ManorJ

93. In Opestorp [Obthorpe (Ness)] there are 2 bovates of land [assessed] to the geld. There is land for 2 oxen. There are 2 sokemen there with half a team, and 4 acres of meadow.


94. M. In Bertune and Torp [Burton Goggles and Bassingthorpe (Beltisloe)] he had 14 bovates of land [assessed] to the geld. There is land for 14 oxen. Azor, Ivo's man, has 3 villeins and 2 bordars there with 2 teams, and 300 acres of underwood, and 13 acres of meadow. T. R. E. it was worth 30 shillings ; now 20 shillings. This belongs to (iacet in) Bergebi [Barrowby (Winnibriggs)].


95. In Helpericham [Helpringham (Aswardhurn)] there are 6 bovates of land [assessed] to the geld. There is land for 6 oxen. It is soke[land] belonging to (in) Wiuelestorp [Wilsthorpe (Ness)]. There are 3 sokemen and 1 bordar there with 1 team, and 1 acre of meadow.

This entry documents that in 1066, when William of Normandy conquered England, two local Anglo-Saxon lords named Bernac and Bole held the Manor of Wilsthorpe and that the manors of Helpringham and Obthorpe were held in soke (under jurisdiction) of their manor of Wilsthorpe.  Wilsthorpe was assessed as 4 carucates of land, so approximately 500 acres of ploughable land, Helpringham as 6 bovates, so just under 100 acres of usable land, and Obthorpe as 2 bovates, about 30 acres so taken all together they were major landholders.  However after 1066 they were displaced by the Normans and in 1086 their land was held by Odo, a man representing the Norman Earl Ivo de Taillebois.  I can find no further positive evidence of this Bole although he was possibly related to a Bole who was holding land at Deeping in 1125.


Bole of Deeping area in about 1125

‘The Liber Niger (Black Book) of Peterborough Abbey’ (ca. 1125) contains a reference that ‘The Abbot of Burch (now Peterborough) .... held 2 bovates of land in Obthorpe in socage (under his jurisdiction) ..... and in Deeping 1 carucate and land for 3 oxen in jurisdiction from the land of Bole.....” 


While I have not yet been able to find anything further about a man named Bole holding land near Market Deeping in about 1125, he was possibly related to the Bole who held a large area of Lincolnshire in 1066 including Obthorpe as mentioned above. 


This is far from certain though as surnames were not generally passed on in the Anglo-Saxon population at that time.  There is nothing to say that a son of a man named Bole in 1066 would use the name Bole himself.


However the name Bole is recorded again in Lincolnshire in the 1100’s.

Bole and Bolle of Glentham and Caenby before 1190


The Registrum Antiquissium of the Cathedral Church of Lincoln, Vol. 4 (The Lincoln Record Society vol. 32) chapter on Charters of the West and North Ridings of Lindsey, comprising chiefly land grants to the church from landholders in the parish, contains the following references for a Randulf son of Bole and possibly a Hubert Bolle with landholdings at Caenby near Glentham about 10 miles north of Lincoln in the late 1100’s.


For all the charters referred to in the following see Bole References in the Registrum Antiquissium of the Cathedral Church of Lincoln


About 1190 Gilbert of Glentham granted to the Church of Lincoln some land in Glentham consisting of one and a half bovates of land which was Randulf son of Bol’s, one bovate that was Toche’s, a half bovate that was Turstan Albi’s, a toft that was Magistrate Walter Gibb’s and a toft that was Hubert Bolle’s with all their appurtenances both within and out of the town, also a half share in the church of Glentham and a half share of the advowson of that church for the souls of his ancestors and especially for the soul of Henry de Seurebi, father of the parson of Glentam. (#1114)  Witnesses on the grant included Alan of Filingham, deacon; Robert de Seurebi; Hugh son of Radulph of Filingham and others.  This must have been just prior to Gilbert’s death as soon afterwards Sir Alfred son of Gilbert of Grantham gave another charter to the Church of Lincoln confirming this grant.  (#1115)


Some of Randulf son of Bole’s land outside of the town was near Caenby farm (just south of Glentham).  Between 1196 and 1203 Gilbert’s son Alfred of Glentham made another grant to the church of ‘a meadow that Ranulf son of Bole had held next to Caenby’. (#1118)    In other grants from around 1220 (#1132) and in 1223/1224 (#1135) this meadow near Caenby was still referred to as having formerly been held by Ranulphus (Rannulf) son of Bole.


There are also references for a Hugh son of Hubert of Glentham donating a meadow and arable land in Glentham to the church around 1220. (#1121, #1130)  One piece of this land is described as being ‘on Southhill next to the land of Hybry daughter of Hubert Belle’.  In about 1230 Alice, widow of Hugh son of Hubert, released any rights or claim that she might have to that land as her dower rights indicating that Hugh had recently died. (#1131)


So this Hugh could have been the son of Hubert Bolle, of Hubert Belle or of entirely some other Hubert.  There is no further evidence to prove either.  In 1223/24 the Canon of Lincoln founded the chantry at the altar of St Nicholas in the church of Lincoln with the endowments for the chantry coming from the land given to the chapter by Hugh son of Hubert and various other parcels including the meadow on Southhill next to the land of Ybri daughter of Hubert Belle and also ‘the meadow that Ranulph son of Bole sometimes held near Caenby’. (#1135)


There is too little information to connect this Ranulf son of Bole to the Bole who held land at Wilsthorpe almost 100 years earlier or to the Bole holding land at Market Deeping 35 years earlier.  This was at the very earliest period when the English were only starting to use family names.  Randulf was not Randulf Bole he was simply Randulf and his father’s name was Bole.  His father may have been simply Bole or he may have been known as Bole son of Wulfric or any other name.


The repeat references for this Hubert Belle casts some doubt on the original Hubert Bolle reference which could be a transcription error for Belle. However, if the Hubert Bolle reference is accurate, this may be one of the most important records in the Bolles of Lincolnshire’s family history.  The presence of a Hubert Bolle living so close nearby to Rannulf son of Bole may indicate a founding of the Bolle family name. 


Bole Of Saxby in 1209


Another Bolle reference in this same area shortly after 1160 would greatly increase the chance of this being the origin of at least one line of the Bolles and there is one.   Gillian Jensen in her book ‘Scandinavian Personal Names in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire’ lists the Bolle and Bol names which occurred in Lincolnshire as having a root in the Scandinavian name Boli.  Her list of examples from page 59 of her book:

Rannulf or Randulf f. (son of) Bol or Bole sometimes called Randulf Bole and Hubert Bolle are as we found them above (documented above)

There are two interesting new references.  

For William Bolle of Saxby in 1209 see below.  

We know about Godfrey Bolle of Swineshead by 1298 but a reference for a Thomas Bolle of Swineshead in 1219 is very helpful.  See The Bolle of Swineshead for more on these two.

A William Bolle was at Saxby about 2 ½ miles south of Caenby in 1209 (ref. Feet of Fines for the County of Lincoln for the Reign of King John, 1199-1216, ed. M.S.Walker, Pipe Roll Society, New Series, Vol. XXIX, London 1954; charter 300).  The land in this charter is described as in Saxby and as being half between the land of Roger the son of Martin and the land of William Bolle and the other half lying between the land of Turkill of Saxby and the land of Reginald son of Godwin.

It seems that prior to the Norman arrival in 1066 there was a succession of Bole landowners in Lincolnshire, not likely related to each other,


They were probably named just for having a physique such that people called them Bole.  Jensen gives two explanations for the byname Bole from ‘Boli’ or ‘bull’ which would imply a large strong man as we tend to see the stereotypical Viking warrior and for Bolle from ‘Bolli’ or ‘bowl’ which she states implies a bowl-shaped man hence a fat man.   I don’t believe that any distinction between the two names Bole and Bolle is valid as all the references we have found were as recorded in Latin by Norman clerks who would have ‘Latinized’ the Viking name as something like ‘Bolus’ which were then translated back (guessed at) to an English version by the authors quoted above.   I cannot so far find any historic reference for a suggestion online that the servant at a Viking table who passed the bowl of mead around may have been called Bolle but I suppose that’s possible as well.  However, these Bole and Bolle all seem to have been landowners so the servant idea does not fit as well as those from Jensen’s book.

Bolle of Swineshead  1100's


This is about when this line first appears.  See The Bolles of Swineshead Parish for their story.


de Builly in Well Wapentake in 1202


The Lincolnshire Assize  also heard a number of cases from the Welle wapentake between 1202 and 1209.  There is a one line mention of a Radulfo (Ralph) de Builly who was fined ½ mark ‘for concealment’.  I don’t know what he was concealing.  The Well Wapentake would include the villages of Brampton, Bransby, Gate Burton, Fenton, Kettlethorpe, Kexby, Knaith, Marton, Newton on Trent, Normanby by Stow, Stow (Lindsey), Sturton by Stow, Upton & Willingham by Stow.


Ralph de Builly is a very Norman name.

Bolle in 1200's


The Patent Rolls of Henry III for 1229 includes a declaration by the Abbot of Tupholme Abbey, Lincolnshire against several men of Burreth (Lindsey South Riding just East of Bardney; parish of Tupholme) including a Walter Bolle.


The Registrum Antiquissium of the Cathedral Church of Lincoln Vol. VIII, (The Lincoln Record Society, Vol. 51, 1958) records a series of land transactions dated between 1240 and 1250.  In one Alan Bole and his wife Alice are selling all their land in Newport (in the parish of St John the Baptist), lying between the land of William le Heawere and the land of Ralf son of Emma of Scampton, to William of Winchcombe, canon of Lincoln for which Alan received 22s “in his great necessity”.  The entry just before this one records a widow selling her land in Newport which was lying between the Canon’s land and William le Heawere’s land to the Canon for 10s “in her great necessity”.  The next three grants after Alan’s cover John and Ivo, sons of William le Hewaere’s, sale of the land in Newport lying between the widow’s land and Alan Bole’s land, also to the Canon for “a yearly render of a penny to John”.  This land is referred to again in 1317 when Edward II confirmed the land grants held by the vicars of the church of St Mary Lincoln as “the rent of 2s receivable yearly from the land late of Adam Boel in the parish of St Nicholes, Neweport.  Ref  (info page The Bole of Newport) 


The Fine Roll of 46 Henry III (1262) records an Agnes and Lucy Bolle, daughters of a Gilbert Bolle, who paid half a mark in order to appear before ‘M. de Littlebury’ in the Lincolnshire assizes.  Gilbert would likely be of the same generation as Alan.  ‘M. de Littlebury’ would be Martin de Littlebury of Lincoln (later the Chief Justice of the Bench at Westminster).



While Bolle would later become Bowles in later branches, there was actually a very early occurrence of the letter ‘w’ in the name in Lincolnshire this early as well and this one is clearly from a known Norman origin.  The Final Concords of the County of Lincoln 1244-1272 (published in The Lincoln Record Society Vol. 17) record a ‘Peter de Boweles and Mary his wife’ holding land at Rouceby (now Rauceby) and Morton in the county of Lincoln and also in 46 Henry III (1262).  Rauceby is about 10 miles west of Swineshead and Morton is a similar distance to the southwest.  This turns out to be Peter de Buelle of Gravenhurst, Bedfordsire, a member of a cadet line of the de Busli family of South Yorkshire who had acquired a 1/3 share interest in this land in Lincolnshire through his wife, a co-heiress of Walter de Stukeley.  Peter does seem to have been the first one in Bedfordshire to transition the name from de Buelle (pronounced Boole) to Bowel to the point where his manor is recorded in 16th century references as Bowel Hall and nearby there are Bowles descendants living today. See The de Buelles of Old Wardon and Gravenhurst, Bedfordshire


This site was last updated 10/19/18